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Prosecutor: Police justified in shooting at man, killing dog

LYNCHBURG (AP) A Lynchburg police officer was justified in shooting at a man and killing the dog he was holding while trying to take him into custody during a mental health episode, a prosecutor said.

Police responded to an extended-stay apartment complex on Feb. 25 after a woman called 911 saying the man had a history of violence and had stopped taking psychiatric medications, The News & Advance of Lynchburg reported, citing a Virginia State Police investigation.

Lynchburg Police officers tried to speak with the man to no avail, while others took the woman to a magistrate’s office to obtain an emergency custody order which directs law enforcement to take someone at risk of harming themselves or others into custody and to a medical facility, according to the state police report.

Police later sent a tactical team into the apartment to get the man, the report said. What happened next was recorded on at least one body camera. One officer drew his gun as others demanded that the man drop a knife. They found him sitting on a bed holding a cellphone with both hands and a dog in his lap, the report said.

Lynchburg police said that when officers ordered the man to show his hands, he “thrust his hand under covers or clothing” and started to pull something out. The armed officer fired once, grazing the man’s fingers, hitting the cellphone and killing the dog.

State Police turned over their findings to Bedford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Wes Nance, who said he wouldn’t pursue charges against the officer.

Lynchburg police spokesperson Carrie Dungan said the officer who shot the dog remains on restricted duty pending a departmental investigation.

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